Holding grief close and sharing it in New Mexico’s dry sandbeds

Climate change anxiety runs deep, even if the rivers don’t anymore. The stories in 2023 that mark further consequences to a harmed environment.

By: - Monday December 25, 2023 5:05 am

Holding grief close and sharing it in New Mexico’s dry sandbeds

Climate change anxiety runs deep, even if the rivers don’t anymore. The stories in 2023 that mark further consequences to a harmed environment.

By: - 5:05 am

When the water dries, fish gasp for hours in the streambed until they die. Taken June 15, 2022. (Photo by Diana Cervantes for Source NM)

When the water dries, fish gasp for hours in the streambed until they die. Taken June 15, 2022. (Photo by Diana Cervantes for Source NM)

There is enough grief to go around.

It squeezes out of the unsaid things around the edges of the holidays. I see it in the snowless peaks in Southern NM, the empty seats at the table, hospital visits, the things we scroll past in the feeds from our too-bright screens.

It tinges happy moments too.

The squeeze of a heart, when things feel too full, when life moves on anyways. Where you blink back the afterimage of what was before.

I struggle a lot with climate grief, as so many people do. I’m fighting my own fatigue and helplessness, at the enormity of the crisis, of how many people are hurting now and how vulnerable people are. I haven’t stopped looking for answers.

But the questions have changed.

I am haunted by the planet of my childhood. The deep snows that we may lose in my lifetime, the once-green of the Rio Grande National Forest replaced by deadfall, the Jemez Mountains, reshaped.

I’m starting to hate blue skies a little, they’re too empty for all my sadness.

There isn’t a right way to grieve. Sometimes, I think I’m doing it so wrong.

But it is good too, to take a walk in the mountains who’ve known us our whole lives, to see a different river each time, even if much of it remains sandbed. It is love to care for things, even as they slip away from us. It is love to teach my nephews the names of the plants, to see them adore Earth’s living things so dearly.

It is worse to be alone, than to be haunted. We remember what we love, share it with others and fight for the future. That is what living is.

I wanted to share with you some of the work Source NM did this year, which can illuminate some of our challenges, and sparks themes of story, remembrance, love and place.

Let me know what they inspire in you, what questions remain. I always love to hear from you.

Thanks for your time, please take some time to rest, reflect and – most of all – love. We’ll see you next year.

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Danielle Prokop
Danielle Prokop

Danielle Prokop covers the environment and local government in Southern New Mexico for Source NM. Her coverage has delved into climate crisis on the Rio Grande, water litigation and health impacts from pollution. She is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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